Quality education stimulate growth, says Babalakin
*‘Calls for better funding of varsities’
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), has said quality education is a stimulus for development. He said it is sad that no Nigerian university is among the first 800 universities in the world.
Babalakin spoke at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Alumni Awards, which was held at the weekend at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. The event was to celebrate UNILAG’s 55th anniversary.
The erudite lawyer and businessman, who chaired the event, said: “In its 55 years of existence, UNILAG has contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria. This assertion does not require an elaborate justification. The quality of its Alumni Association is a direct testimony to its remarkable contribution.
“The Nigerian educational system is now at a crossroad. The very promising start has slowed down significantly. It is a poor reflection on the Nigerian educational system that no Nigerian university is rated amongst the first 800 universities in the world. Education provides stimulus for development. Good education definitely enhances the velocity of development. A situation where our universities cannot compete favourably with other tertiary institutions in the world places our citizens on a relatively weaker footing in the struggle for the emancipation of our country. We have to change the structure of our universities to give them the impetus to do far better than where we are today.”
Babalakin commended the Federal Government for granting substantial autonomy to universities in the administration of the various institutions, thereby empowering them to choose the best candidates as officers of the universities.
Calling for better funding of universities, the lawyer said: “A principal challenge today is the funding of these universities. According to the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), the estimated average cost of training an undergraduate to full accreditation status as at 2010 was $3,364 per annum, exclusive of living expenses.
Without allowing for inflation over the last seven years, this is N1.2 million per undergraduate. With UNILAG’s student population of about 16,000 full time students and about 34,000 other students, UNILAG will require about N61 billion per annum to run a good university.
“There are forty federal universities in Nigeria of various sizes. The cumulative amount that would be required per annum for university education alone will not be less than N1.5 trillion per annum. It is clear that government, no matter how willing it is, cannot provide all the money required for this exercise. It cannot spend all its resources on a single item. Health, Education, Defense and Infrastructure are also the responsibility government, which it has to provide for.
“We have to find a creative way of funding education. It must be funded from various sources, including public and private funding. I commend President Buhari’s administration for seeking an enduring solution to this problem. Recently, the Ministry of Education, under the selfless leadership of Mallam Adamu Adamu, set up a Federal Government/University Staff Unions 2009 Agreement Renegotiation Committee with a mandate to, amongst other things, propose an enduring way of funding university education in Nigeria. We believe that at the end of this exercise, we would have suggested a sustainable source of funding, which would be adequate and protected from the vagaries of politics and the uncertainty of Nigeria’s economy. We must never shy away from enduring situations. We must face them with courage.”
Babalakin said UNILAG’s Alumni is an assembly of egg heads, who are capable of proffering solutions to societal problems. He urged the association to be determined to remove every stumbling block in the way of attaining quality education.
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